Moses Maimonides once said something like – if today you give a person a fish, they will be hungry tomorrow. If, however, you teach them how to fish, they will be fed for the rest of their lives.
I reckon right now in this world we need to start showing people how to fish.
I am seeing an increasing and worrying trend in my world of people expecting to be given something or expecting someone to fix their problems. This displays itself in things like the herd mentality – mindlessly following the noise of the “mob” or constantly expecting to be given things from their partner for their benefit or expecting the government to throw money to fix a problem.
It was reinforced to me recently when I was facilitating a discussion between two people when one of them said that the other person doesn’t make them happy to which I asked, “what does make you happy?”. The response was “I don’t know.” How could another person possibility make one happy if you don’t know what makes you happy!
We must teach people how to fish. I am increasingly convinced that if things are constantly just given to people it becomes expected, there is no appreciation and the value drops. When we don’t value what we have then we can’t be grateful for what we have got – and gratefulness is one of the key sources and strategies of wellbeing and resilience.
So, how do we teach people how to “fish”.
My way of teaching people to fish starts with explaining the process of life.
No one owes you anything. We are not entitled to anything. Yes, we should be very aware of the disadvantaged and people born with challenges, but the only thing we owe them is a “help up”. When has a permanent handout ever achieved long term change and benefit? I would prefer to give people a hand up as opposed to a handout.
Next message is that you must “own” and take responsibility for your decisions. Part of this lesson is never playing the victim. It’s a mindset that won’t serve you and, in many instances, won’t be appreciated by others. A bad choice is a mistake. Making the same bad choice repeatedly is a habit – a bad one at that.
Have an opinion on things that matter in your world. Learn how to think for yourself. Don’t just accept thoughts and behaviours because other people have them. I know people who blindly share opinions and beliefs that their parents gave them. Some of those opinions and beliefs are over 40 years old. The world changes. Challenge yourself and your thinking.
Research topics. Read. Travel. Travel certainly broadens the mind.
See beyond labels e.g. Democrat, Labor, Catholic, Hindu. Labels dumb things down and works against critical thinking – i.e. that person is a Labor supporter they must… No! Quit the labels and ill-informed assumptions – you know that saying about what it makes you when you assume!
Plan and set objectives. Goal panning is so vital for us at so many levels. It gives us direction, incentives and drives us forward. With no direction, we have no purpose and we falter. We forget how much power we have in our own will and how powerful we become when we apply this will.
Finally, fishing is about taking control, being resourceful on your own accord and making decisions and taking action for yourself. And isn’t that a good thing.
So, go and grab that fishing rod and start reeling in the benefits.